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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

December 14, 2008


Auto Bailout Defeated (for Now)

By a minority "procedural vote" of 52 "Yeas" to 45 "Neys", which most of us call an "up-and-down majority", the Republicans in the US Senate were able to kill the US Auto Bailout Defeated (for Now)

US auto maker bail out bill. The bill was negotiated on by Democrats in Congress and a Bush White House which, usually, doesn't play so nicely with their Left-of-Center counterparts.

Those Republicans in the Senate who voted against the pared-down $14 billion auto bailout bill, but voted for the $700 billion financial bailout have some explaining to do. While their the financial industry bill, which could even give some federal dollars to overseas investors hurt by their own actions in the collapse of their own doing, found its initial friends in the US Senate with the upper chamber's GOP members leading the charge. The opposition came in when the Libertarian-like House Republicans joined in with the furthest Left-leaning House Democrats to force a more palatable bill, at least to that unusual group.

The "Naysayers" in the Senate against the auto bailout bill were led by Tennessee's Republican Junior Senator Bob Corker. Corker. the man who defeated former Rep. Harold Ford by using ads which showed his African-American Democratic opponent as a womanizer out for white women, had this to say about how close the bill came to passing:

"We were about three words away from a deal,"
-Senator Bob Corker (REPUBLICAN-TN)

I bet I know what those three words were. "Go f--- yourself," or maybe it was "No f------ way."

The thinly veiled excuses used by the 35 US mostly-Republican Senators really only boiled down to one thing: Labor Unions. The United Auto Workers, already agreeing to concessions to take effect when their contract ends in 2011, were accosted by the gang of 35 senators for not allowing their workers to take the hit in 2009.

The Republican leadership in the Senate want the UAW to pare down their entire package. To do so, they add the value of the retirees' health and retirement benefits fought for by the Union along with the future retirement and current medical benefits current workers have today as a part of their package.

The Senate GOP point to the average hourly wage of the UAW workers saying that it's too high. General Motors reports that the average hourly wage of their workers stands at $69 per hour. That number, however, included adding in all of the cost of the Retirees' retirement benefits, the actual wage of the US auto worker and their benefits. Toyota's employees, on the other hand, are costing the Japanese auto maker $48 per hour using the same formula.

When looking at actual wages, we see something completely different with GM paying their employees about the same as Toyota ($29.78 to "around $30).

The Senate minority wants to make the total packages worth the same today. If they have their way, it would leave the retirees nearly without benefits or current employees without a livable wage.

In other words, it appears that the Senate GOP want the UAW to just go away. That's something that they would like to see happen to all labor unions.

The funny thing is that when it comes down to it, the same people who voted to allow Financial Industry CEO's unlimited salaries and bonuses want to limit the collective bargaining which labor unions have fought hard for over a century. I guess that the free market only works one way.

In the end, President Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson are going to have to tap some of the money earmarked for Big Finance. It appears that even Bush realizes that the Big Three need to be saved even if it's from themselves, and taking $14 billion from the $700 billion of the Finance industry's dollars is a valid use of that money.

Although I began writing this piece on Friday just after the senate defeated the bailout bill, I was hoping that its content would have to change and President Bush would have told Paulson to take $14 billion from the Financial bailout and use it as a bridge loan for the US auto industry. However, in true Bushco style, the words by the current President were just rhetorical in nature. Rather than tackle the last (hopefully) catastrophe during his term in office, President Bush went on a surprise visit to Iraq one last time.

Like an Iraqi journalists action in protest of President Bush, if most of us were in that journalist gallery, we might have thrown our shoes at Bush too.

Politically speaking, it appears that the Senate GOP move will help keep their seats in the states which house foreign auto manufacturers. Their stance, however, certainly won't help them in states like Michigan and Ohio, so dependent on the US auto manufacturer and so instrumental as battleground states in Presidential elections.

One has to wonder whether the GOP opposition was made out of ideology or if it were punitive.

Maybe one really doesn't have to wonder.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, ABC’s Boston Legal” ended its five seasons in a two-hour series finale Dec. 9. It was a loss to the often uncritical and largely unpolitical/apolitical TV landscape," Eddie Konczal writes:

Kudos to Victoria for her continued praise of "Boston Legal." With the exception of the mind-blowing "Lost," "Boston Legal" was my favorite TV show over the last 5 seasons. Few TV shows dared to take on the issues of the day - political or otherwise - with as much guts and gusto as Boston Legal. I can't believe that ABC didn't realize what they had with this show. Spader and Shatner were both remarkable and I will miss their weekly drinks on the balcony. Also excellent on a regular basis were Candace Bergen, John Laroquette, and Christian ("Hands") Clemensen. I'm hoping to find some Boston Legal DVDs under my Christmas
Tree this year.

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-Noah Greenberg